A love letter to a competitor?

There are different ways in which a company can position itself against its competitors. No one way is right; the company has to choose its own method.

On one extreme, the company could simply refuse to mention the competitors at all. In this case, the company would market its claimed superiority solely based upon its own merits, without comparing against others.

On the other extreme, the company could trash its competitors. I don’t need to find examples of that; we already know them. (I personally abhor this method, because it doesn’t reflect well on the company doing the trashing.)

Between these two extremes, a company can state its own merits and, without trashing the competition, claim its superiority by comparison.

For example, a company could write a love letter to its competitors.

Seriously.

As in “Welcome, IBM. Seriously.” The famous ad that Apple ran when IBM entered the personal computer market.

By Rama & Musée Bolo – File:IBM_PC-IMG_7271.jpg, CC BY-SA 2.0 fr, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=94784371

But I have a more recent example.

If you are following the Bredemarket LinkedIn page (you ARE following the Bredemarket LinkedIn page, aren’t you?), you’ve seen a couple of recent mentions of the company Volley. The company is planning to release a new communications app that it claims will improve communication over all of the other communications apps.

In that vein, Volley’s CEO Josh Little wrote a “love letter” to Slack entitled “Dear Slack, You haven’t solved the problem…” It starts off in a positive tone.

First off, thank you for trying. It was a valiant effort and someone needed to take a solid stab at the problem. Our hats are off. You’ve built a great piece of technology and a faster horse.

But after that, the rest of Little’s article gently explains how Slack’s solution hasn’t really solved the inherent problem. (TL;DR Little asserts that Slack’s emphasis on text does not provide a complete communications solution, and ends up with people devoting MORE time to using Slack.)

Little ends the article by asserting what Volley will be. Because the app is not yet released, we can not see for ourselves what the app does. So Little creates a picture of Volley as occupying the middle position between Slack (text-based asynchronous communication) and Zoom (conversation-based synchronous communication). Volley occupies the “conversation-based asynchronous communication” position, and claims to include features that will actually REDUCE the time that people spend on Volley, rather than having Volley become yet another time sink in our collection of time sinks. For example, communications from others can be played back at 2x (or 1.5x) speed, reducing the amount of time needed to consume the content.

I’m not saying that marketers have to be like Volley, or that marketers have to be like Steve Jobs 1.0 Apple, or that marketers have to be like Steve Jobs 2.0 Apple.

A company needs to adopt its own tone for addressing its competitors. And everyone communicating on behalf of the company, from the CEO to the factory worker, should ideally adopt the same tone.

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